Biggest MLB Duds of 2016 MLB Regular Season, Position by Position

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2016

Biggest MLB Duds of 2016 MLB Regular Season, Position by Position

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    You might be wondering how a member of the mighty Chicago Cubs could end up on our season-ending All-Dud team, but Jason Heyward contributed as little as possible to his team's overall success during the regular season.

    Maybe that will change during the playoffs. Maybe not. But that matters not for our purposes, which are to comprise a roster full of baseball's biggest disappointments. As usual, our season-ending roster is a 10-man squad, one that includes a designated hitter and starting pitcher.

    Traditional offensive statistics were the overriding factor in filling out our roster, but we also considered advanced metrics, defense and a player's salary in our final selections.

Catcher: Derek Norris, San Diego Padres

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    2016 Stats: .186 BA, .583 OPS, 31 XBH (14 HR), 42 RBI

    San Diego manager Andy Green is thrilled Derek Norris has taken young backstop Austin Hedges under his wing, according to Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. But the Padres skipper might want to rethink who serves as the talented youngster's mentor.

    It's been 32 years since we last saw a catcher have as bad a season at the plate as Derek Norris has. His .583 OPS is the lowest from a catcher with at least 450 plate appearances since Bob Boone posted a .504 mark for the California Angels back in 1984.

    The 27-year-old struck out at a career-high rate, which is no surprise, as he chased more pitches out of the strike zone than ever before. That's the sort of thing that happens when a player is pressing at the plate.

    Norris spent most of the season doing just that. June was the only month you'd call a good one for him, as he hit .273 with an .824 OPS. But 21 games don't make up for a season's worth of ineptitude.

    Dishonorable Mention

    Matt Wieters (BAL): .243 BA, .711 OPS, 35 XBH (17 HR), 66 RBI

First Base: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals

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    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    2016 Stats: .218 BA, .642 OPS, 34 XBH (15 HR), 46 RBI

    It's a good thing Ryan Zimmerman has the cool dad thing down pat off the field, because he's not going to get many platitudes tossed his way for his on-field exploits.

    While the 115 games in which he played represents the most action he's seen since 2013, the 32-year-old posted the worst numbers of his 12-year career in the process, including a career-high 22.3 percent strikeout rate.

    His .588 OPS with runners in scoring position was baseball's fourth-worst and more than 100 points lower than the next first baseman on the list, Baltimore's Chris Davis (.714).

    Dishonorable Mention

    Mitch Moreland (TEX): .233 BA, .720 OPS, 43 XBH (22 HR), 60 RBI

Second Base: Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins

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    Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

    2016 Stats: .268 BA, .641 OPS, 14 XBH (1 HR), 14 RBI, 30-of-37 SB

    You can't help but wonder if Miami would've been fighting for a wild-card berth on the last day of the regular season had Dee Gordon been around all year.

    But the reigning National League batting champ wasn't since he served an 80-game suspension for violating MLB's performance-enhancing-drug policy that knocked him out of action from late April until late July.

    Cheating is reason enough to affix the dud label to the back of Gordon's jersey, and his selfish act robbed the Marlins of their table-setter, forcing manager Don Mattingly to adjust the lineup. It also raised questions about the legitimacy of his breakout 2015 campaign.

    Dishonorable Mention

    Joe Panik (SF): .239 BA, .695 OPS, 38 XBH (10 HR), 62 RBI

Third Base: Chase Headley, New York Yankees

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    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    2016 Stats: .251 BA, .712 OPS, 33 XBH (14 HR), 51 RBI

    There wasn't a glaring dud at the hot corner this season, so third basemen who had decent but unspectacular seasons—like Chase Headley—were fair game when it came to filling out our roster.

    While Headley's numbers were better in 2016 than they were in 2015, the veteran wasn't that much better. His .712 OPS, the lowest among qualified third basemen, was only 19 points higher than his uninspiring .693 mark from a season ago.

    It's never a good thing when your OPS is closer to .700 than .800.

    The bulk of his production came over a three-month stretch from May through July when he hit .286 with 21 extra-base hits (10 home runs), 32 RBI and a .801 OPS. But it wasn't enough to make the New York Yankees anything more than a .500 team, as they'd go 38-38 in those 76 games.

    Dishonorable Mention

    Adonis Garcia (ATL): .273 BA, .717 OPS, 43 XBH (14 HR), 65 RBI

Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez, San Diego Padres/Tampa Bay Rays

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    Brad Mangin/Getty Images

    2016 Stats: .241 BA, .610 OPS, 30 XBH (6 HR), 48 RBI

    While offensive production is the overwhelming factor when it comes comprising our All-Dud team, defense plays the role of tiebreaker when things are close offensively. There's no comparison between Alexei Ramirez and Adeiny Hechavarria with the glove, as the latter is far superior to the elder statesman.

    Ramirez has played long enough to have a few tricks up his sleeve, even those designed to mess with an opponent's head more than anything else. But all the veteran know-how in the game couldn't help the 35-year-old at the plate.

    Ramirez was unproductive in both Tampa Bay and San Diego, posting a batting average under .250 and an OPS under .650 in each location.

    Dishonorable Mention

    Adeiny Hechavarria (MIA): .236 BA, .594 OPS, 26 XBH (3 HR), 38 RBI

Left Field: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    2016 Stats: .220 BA, .692 OPS, 35 XBH (17 HR), 40 RBI

    Kansas City first base coach Rusty Kuntz believes Alex Gordon finally got his swing back on track, telling Lee Judge of the Kansas City Star the ball sounds different coming off his bat than it had earlier this season.

    A scout agreed, telling the Star's Sam Mellinger that it "wasn't until the last few weeks that I heard the same sound off his bat."

    While it's possible it took him this long to get over the broken wrist he suffered in mid-May, it doesn't make up for what has been a disappointing season for Gordon, who signed a four-year, $72 million deal to remain a Royal back in January.

    Only three left fielders had an OPS below .700 this season: Gordon, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Howie Kendrick (.692) and Melvin Upton Jr. (.696), who split time between San Diego and Toronto. The difference between the three, aside from percentage points, is that Kendrick and Upton will be playing postseason baseball.

    Gordon's lack of production was damning for the Royals.

    Dishonorable Mention

    Howie Kendrick (LAD): .255 BA, .691 OPS, 36 XBH (8 HR), 40 RBI

Center Field: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    2016 Stats: .260 BA, .664 OPS, 25 XBH (3 HR), 17 RBI, 58-of-66 SB

    The impact that Billy Hamilton's world-class speed can have on a game isn't lost on anyone, including opposing managers such as Los Angeles Angels skipper Mike Scioscia, who could offer just a handful of names from his playing days who could match the wheels of Cincinnati's center fielder.

    "Guys like [Vince] Coleman and [Tim] Raines and Rickey Henderson could lead off in any era," Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin last month. "Those guys would be just as valuable today. Finding that guy who can get on base with that game-changing speed, that's a special player."

    Except Hamilton doesn't get on base—at least not consistently. His .321 on-base percentage sits between his teammate Brandon Phillips (.320) and Milwaukee slugger Chris Carter (.322), the National League's leader in strikeouts.

    Speaking of strikeouts, Hamilton continues to whiff at a far higher rate than a player who hits for minimal power and relies on his speed as his biggest weapon. That he remains averse to drawing a walk doesn't help matters either.

    While his 58 stolen bases are impressive, consider this: How much more impressive would that total be if he played to his strengths instead of trying to channel his inner Willie Mays Hayes of Major League fame?

    Dishonorable Mention

    Kevin Pillar (TOR): .266 BA, .679 OPS, 44 XBH (7 HR), 53 RBI

Right Field: Jason Heyward, Chicago Cubs

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    Michael Thomas/Getty Images

    2016 Stats: .230 BA, .631 OPS, 35 XBH (7 HR), 49 RBI

    Eight-year, $184 million contracts are kind of a big deal, and they bring even bigger expectations. Jason Heyward failed to come close to meeting those in his first year as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

    Certainly, his defense has played a part in Chicago's first 100-win season since 1935. But just how high would that win total be had Heyward put together an average season at the plate?

    His .631 OPS was the worst among right fielders by nearly 90 points, with Tampa Bay's Steven Souza Jr. a distant second with a .713 mark. Heyward also had the position's lowest slugging percentage (.325), more than 70 points behind Atlanta's Nick Markakis (.397).

    In fact, his OPS was 33 points lower than the next closest outfielder, the previously mentioned Billy Hamilton.

    Dishonorable Mention

    Steven Souza Jr. (TB): .247 BA, .713 OPS, 35 XBH (17 HR), 49 RBI

Designated Hitter: Avisail Garcia, Chicago White Sox

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    Ron Vesely/Getty Images

    2016 Stats: .245 BA, .692 OPS, 32 XBH (12 HR), 51 RBI

    You can say a lot of things about Avisail Garcia, but that he doesn't care isn't one of them. Players who don't care about their performances don't go all Bo Jackson on their bats after striking out, snapping it like a twig over their thigh.

    What we can say about Garcia, however, is that his lack of production at the plate made more than a few fans of the Chicago White Sox want to follow suit, snapping whatever they could get their hands on in disgust.

    Garcia was the only designated hitter to post an OPS below .780—one of the reasons there is no dishonorable mention here—while his 12 home runs, 51 RBI and pretty much every other statistic rank last at the position.

    There's plenty of blame to go around in Chicago for the White Sox's failings in 2016. Garcia deserves some of it.

Starting Pitcher: James Shields, San Diego Padres/Chicago White Sox

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    Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

    2016 Stats: 33 GS, 6-19, 5.85 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 181.2 IP, 208 H (40 HR), 82 BB, 135 K

    During a seven-start stretch that lasted about a month (June 23 through July 26), James Shields looked like the player formerly known as "Big Game James," pitching to a 2.11 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 47 innings of work.

    The rest of the time, though, Shields looked like a glorified batting-practice pitcher. All but nine of the MLB-leading 40 home runs he allowed this season—the first pitcher to allow at least 40 dingers since Bronson Arroyo in 2011—came over the 22 starts he made for the Chicago White Sox.

    It's no surprise then to learn Shields also led baseball in earned runs (118) or that he was among the worst hurlers in terms of hits (208, seventh), walks (82, fifth) and batting average against (.288, tied for second).

    Dishonorable Mention

    Edinson Volquez (KC): 34 GS, 10-11, 5.37 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 189.1 IP, 217 H (23 HR), 76 BB, 139 K

    Unless otherwise linked/noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs and MLB.com.

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